The principle is easy. If you stay checked in with your body, you make better choices. When you make better choices, you implement self-care and your health improves. When your health improves, you stay checked in, make better choices, and transform your world.
The practice can be more challenging.
- How do you stay checked in to your body’s needs, when you didn’t sleep last night, you’re late for work, and you forgot to pick up groceries?
- How do you stay checked in to your body’s signals, when the pain signals are so high they are sending you through the roof?
- How do you stay checked in to your body, when you are constantly bombarded with flashbacks of previous trauma?
My dear friend, Maleah, provided me with a new simple strategy she calls HALTT.
Remembering to HALTT
Each letter represents an area of check in. If you are feeling it, find a way to handle it, right away, before it magnifies and sends a louder signal.
Wondering how to remember to check in? Put sticky notes around the house to remind yourself – in your room, bathroom, office, kitchen. You could get really crazy and set a timer for each hour to check in on these things.
Meet your own needs first (aka: the infamous self-care conundrum) so you can support those you love. You know the whole “put your own oxygen mask on first” line right? You know it because it’s true. Read on to find out how to recognize each of these areas of need.
H = Hungry
- When was the last time you ate?
- When are you going to eat again?
- Did you overeat?
- Did you undereat?
- Can you stop what you are doing right now to eat if you are hungry?
Don’t let yourself go through low and high blood sugar swings. They wreak havoc on your body, and equally on your emotions. Shoot for stable blood sugar throughout the day with healthy snacks you can grab quickly. Flackers and paneer are go-tos for me. Lara Bars are a second option. Kitcharee is another option if it’s already cooked and ready to go. Find at least 3 options you can turn to right away when hunger strikes and you respond to the call.
A = Angry
- Are you feeling anger?
- Or irritability?
- Is everyone getting on your nerves?
- Are you losing your temper?
- Are you feeling antsy or anxious like you might explode?
This starts at a lower level, but can easily get magnified, especially if you’ve ignored hunger. In fact, hunger can lead to anger… you know you’ve heard of being “hangry” before. You don’t want to meet me when I’m hangry… I promise you.
If you are feeling irritable, get alone, take some deep breaths, close your eyes, get outside in the sunshine if possible, get near water – fountain, ocean, lake, or even splashing water on your face can help.
L = Lonely
- Do you feel tears close to the surface?
- Are you vicariously living through other people’s experiences and criticizing your own lack of friendship and connection?
- Are you worried you will never find that one “right” person?
- Do you feel isolated and disconnected from the one you thought was the “right” person?
These are hard emotions to grapple with, which is why we so often ignore them. We flat out don’t want to feel the feelings. I’m learning, the hard way, that to heal, we must feel. We must feel all the bad in order to feel the good. We don’t get to be selective with our feelings the way you select your shoes. If they are there, they need to be met, acknowledged, felt, and processed. Then you can release and let them go to make room for others. As my friend Maleah says, a woman is never too old for a teddy bear and a blanket.
T = Tired
- Are you tired?
Hah, that’s not a trick question. Some of you are thinking, when am I not tired? I know. I get it. You did read my weekly review that shows I only get 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night, right? However, this is the one life you get. Even if you are tired, you have to listen to the body signals. You cannot keep overriding them and think that you are not going to have to pay the piper somewhere down the line. You do not want to pay the piper. He is a mean old miserly minion who does not play fair.
Take a nap. Put your head on your desk. Let the kids watch an extra 15 minutes of TV. Put your feet in the air. You are HUMAN, not a robot or computer that can run forever without rebooting.
T = Thirsty
- When was the last time I had a drink of water or tea?
Do not ask yourself if you feel thirsty. You are. Unless you are consciously drinking at least 8 glasses of tea or water every day, you are thirsty and your body needs more fluid. So the question is not, “Am I thirsty?” The question is “when was the last time I had a drink of water?” If it is more than an hour ago, get on it. Get a cup, drink a glass. This is self-care in its simplest form.
If you just made this one change, you would see significant improvement in your skin, your brain fog, your digestion, your elimination and a thousand other functions of the body that go unseen every day. So simple. So easy. So profound. So often ignored.